Rated: Simmons is rated a four-star prospect, and is the No. 7 defensive end in his class. He is also the No. 70 prospect in Scout’s 2016 class.
On Film: Having seen Simmons play during his sophomore season and then watching him at the Nike Football Training Camp in April, it came as no surprise he was so heavily recruited, especially coming from a school like Hyattsville (Md.) DeMatha Catholic.
Simmons, who is 6-foot-4, 230 pounds, is twitched up. His explosion is phenomenal, he has good body control, he understands how to use leverage and dip his shoulder on a speed rush and his hands are quick, and improving.
Simmons is able to get around the edge and get to the passer, and also knows how to dip inside and keep the offensive lineman off balance. He changes direction well and he has a long wing span, which makes it tough for teams to run at him.
Also, Simmons has versatility. He is best suited to play defensive end, but in 3-4 schemes has the athleticism and speed to play outside linebacker. He also is strong, and with two years to get ready for college, he should be plenty strong enough once that time comes.
In looking at a few parts of his sophomore tape (below), let’s first look at the 1:09 mark. He gets up the field quickly, and then does a good job of using his hands to keep the blockers off of him. Simmons then uses his length and athleticism to make the tackle before the running back can get to the corner.
At the 1:40 mark, Simmons gets up the field and demonstrates his ability to get up the field, make himself big, change direction quickly and make the play.
Finally, at the 2:14 mark, Simmons does some good, but also shows a piece of his game that has to improve. He pops off quickly at the snap and gets to the outside. He uses his hands well and swims past the offensive tackle to make the play on the running back in the gap.
However, if Simmons jumps to the outside like that in college, the running back will have the speed to get to the hole and through it before Simmons can get back in the play.
Recruiting Impact: It’s early – really early – but the second four-star commitment in less than two weeks in the 2016 class is a tremendous accomplishment, and something not seen around Penn State before.
Remember when Penn State wasn’t offering underclassmen? That’s how much recruiting has changed in the last few years.
The Nittany Lions went into Pittsburgh and grabbed four-star running back Miles Sanders of Woodland Hills, and that sent one message. To go back into Maryland, where Penn State is doing very well in the 2015 class, and grab one of the top players in Simmons sends another message.
The impact should be significant because whenever Simmons plays, he will be known as the “Penn State kid,” and that bodes well for more exposure for the program, and to send a message to other high-profile prospects that something big is going on with recruiting in Happy Valley, and that it is not isolated to one class.
Quotable: "(The campus) was just awesome all around. There were no negatives with anything. I liked it all. It is a great program and it ranked high up there for me."
Final Thought: Simmons is long and gets up the field quickly. He does a good job of recognizing the play and staying true to his assignment. He has a decent swim move and gets to the quarterback with speed off the edge. He changes direction well and his length allows him to swallow up ball carriers. Adding strength and a rip move will make him much more difficult to block. He has the athleticism to play outside linebacker in a a 3-4 defense.